THE RAMBLING BOYS
Early in 1956 a young singer of American folk songs, Jack Elliott, arrived in this country. His swinging guitar style, lively personality and earthy repertoire quickly won him audiences in London and elsewhere.
At that time, the very first skiffle clubs were being established in London, and Jack's singing contributed to the popularity of this music. But Jack was no three-chord skiffler, sacrificing the feeling of his songs to achieve a commercial beat; his performances were complete in themselves. Nevertheless, he knew that back home folk singers often played together, banjo and guitar, in the style that is heard on this record; a style little heard in England. So he wrote to his buddy, Derroll Adams, to come and sing with him.
By 1957, Derroll was here, and the two singers quickly became popular in skiffle clubs, night clubs and coffee bars, touring parts of Britain and Western Europe.
At no time have these singers made sacrifices to commercial style or repertoire. Their songs are very much as they learned them from the masters of folk art, so highly developed on the North American continent. Jack owes a lot to the great writer of song, Woody Guthrie, whose works he has recorded on Topic T5, "Woody Guthrie's Blues". Derroll's style of playing and singing is similar to that of one of the fathers of the modern banjo, Bascom Lomar Lunsford. The songs Jack and Derroll sing deal with themes continually popular amongst singers of folk-song: the cussedness of life, the striving after womankind, the growing American nation. Their musical forms are simple, but containing the phrases and technique that have been proved effective by countless ordinary men and women singing for their neighbours and friends.